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Chevrolet TrailBlazer is loaded to the max


The Chevrolet TraiBlazer is just loaded - especially when it comes to the upper-echelon 2.8 LTZ models, of which there are three.

Now "loaded" is a word that hasn't gained much traction in South Africa, at least not in the automotive context, and I first vaguely recall picking it up while reading "Wheels" by the late Arthur Hailey as a teen.

It essentially means "full house" or "laden with kit" but somehow sounds better than these terms when applied to the TrailBlazer - which besides being a subtle, rather attractive improvement on the original is now absolutely, well, loaded. Of course, to compete against the likes of the hugely popular Toyota Fortuner, and the Ford Everest to a lesser degree, it needs to have something of a USP over and above the bowtie badge.

So there's that sharpened styling, improved ride quality and noise insulation, and an array of safety equipment. Among it, ABS with EBD (of course), PBA (Panic Brake Assist), and HBFA (Hydraulic Brake Fade Assist). You also get seven airbags across the range. Meanwhile, LTZ models - which includes the two-wheel-drive example tested here, gets Stabilitrak electronic stability / traction control, HDC (Hill Descent Control), and TSC (Trailer Sway Control), while a rear camera with cross-traffic alert is also fitted.

New kit on the LTZ numbers Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Tyre Pressure Monitoring. All pretty remarkable - especially when you consider that only a few short years ago, this level of tech was found only on the most cutting-edge German sedans.

The huge seven-seater interior is dominated by a seven-inch touchscreen linked to General Motors' excellent MyLink 2.0 multimedia interface, while power comes from a 2.8-litre Duramax turbodiesel. Figure on 144kW and an epic 500Nm, with 0-100km/h coming up in 10.4 seconds, topping out at a limited 180km/h.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 9.5 litres, and this big Chevrolet will tow almost three tons, while drive on this model is to the rear wheels only via a six-speed auto. And do you know what? A week with this machine once more rammed home the realisation that only if you're regularly going to be going off-road - properly off-road - do you need to opt for the more expensive, complex, heavier four-wheel-drive versions.

And one other thing all 2.8 LTZ TrailBlazers now come with Remote Vehicle Start which, as the name implies, allows you to start the car from the outside so you can get the climate control pumping. Talk about loaded.

Yours for R552 800 - which is just fractionally cheaper than the equivalent Fortuner. The price includes a five-year/120 000km warranty and a five-year/90 000km service plan.

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